How Important is Recycling of Computer Components?

Enter key on a keyboard replaced with a recycling symbol

Most people think they have the concept of recycling down pat — even if they don’t participate. Most consumers know that recycling is available and that it’s probably important, so the concept of reusing everyday household items like plastics and metals through recycling is common knowledge. The same goes for businesses.

Many consumers and businesses make use of paper and glass recycling, mostly for the reason of limiting the materials in landfills, saving our natural resources (think trees!), and improving the environment.

When it comes to chemical and toxic waste materials though, people don’t naturally think of recycling and making sure that hazardous materials aren’t filling landfills, polluting the air, or in ending up in local water supplies. This is where computer recycling comes in and plays a strong part. Most people don’t consider computers as hazards, but if they are continually allowed into the landfills and local dumps, they certainly can become an issue.

Let’s Look at Some Facts

Computer users find that electronic equipment only makes up a smaller amount of waste compared to other materials, historically. This, then, makes people think electronic recycling isn’t a big deal. But, computers in landfills can add up to 70% of all toxic waste, according to some research. That toxic waste is attributed to the presence of materials like cadmium, dioxins, and radioactive isotopes that exist in the computer’s infrastructure. Limiting the existence of these toxic materials in a mostly uncontrolled environment, like a dump or landfill, is vital for the protection of people and the planet.

And, toxic materials aren’t the only components computer recycling can manage after businesses or consumers are done with them. Computers are made of various metals, plastics, and even glass. These are things can be recycled and made into new, useful products once again. The result, therefore, is less mining for these metals and fewer natural resources used in the production of electronics. This recycling practice also preserves space in our landfills. Metals like copper and gold are harvested during the recycling process. Non-precious metals have their place as well — tin, iron, and aluminum, as well as silicon are all easily recycled.

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